Today, Julián Castro became the first 2020 Democratic presidential candidate to release a comprehensive animal welfare plan. His groundbreaking proposal called “PAW: Protecting Animals and Wildlife,” goes far beyond anything we’ve seen from past presidential candidates.
Though falling short of a clarion call for animal rights, Castro’s plan would significantly reduce suffering for countless animals and create a new paradigm for animals living in the United States.
Here are some of the major milestones Castro hopes to achieve with PAW:
- An end to the euthanasia of dogs and cats in shelters.
- Allotment of $40 million in federal funding to offset the costs of spaying and neutering and to promote animal adoption.
- Signing the PACT (Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture) Act into law. It would make animal cruelty a federal crime when a person commits cruelty to animals on federal lands or across state lines. Sadly, hunting is exempt from this law. The bill is currently stalled in Congress.
- Passage of the Humane Cosmetics Act, which would ban cosmetic testing on animals in all 50 states and ban the sale of cosmetics in the United States that have been tested on animals.
- Passage of the Big Cat Public Safety Act, which would ban the private, unlicensed ownership of big cats such as lions and tigers.
- Expanding to all 50 states what states like California and Massachusetts have already done for farmed animals by creating a federal mandate for increased space for egg-laying hens, mother pigs, and other animals exploited for food.
- Improvements in federal housing for companion animals, including making sure homeless people are not turned away from shelters because they have companion animals with them.
Castro may be the first candidate to release an animal welfare plan, but I’m confident he won’t be the last. In fact, this will probably dare his fellow challengers to do better in this arena.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be keeping my eye on vegan senator Cory Booker to see if he can up the ante. It would be awesome to see him speaking more truth to power regarding meat and dairy production and how both industries grossly exacerbate climate change. Would love to see Booker propose a resolution that would call for Americans to reduce their consumption of animal products. Additionally, it would be great to see Elizabeth Warren rebuke the Dairy Pride Act, a pro-dairy bill she co-sponsored in 2017.